Jason Dennie grew up around acoustic music. The sound of acoustic guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and banjo were pretty common and familiar to his ears by the time he actually had an interest in playing anything himself. Guitar was what he chose and while early influences could be named; Tony Rice, Doc Watson, Stephen Stills and Neil Young, the music that would come from him would always be a unique combination of everything he’d heard.
His main references were from the Bluegrass world, after all, that’s what most of his family played. He had a direct link to the heart of Bluegrass with his Grandfather being good friends with the man who had ‘started it all’ Mr. Bill Monroe, and an Uncle who filled the role of banjo player for Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys in the early 70’s. Jason can remember time spent at many Bluegrass festivals as a child and the sounds of Tony Rice’s guitar and distinct voice filling the house…to this day Tony Rice is still his father’s favorite guitarist.
After a couple of years of learning his way around the instrument, he discovered Leo Kottke and probably had the same reaction alot of people have…”all of that sound, feel, and emotion coming from one guitar… can that be done?” ‘Instrumental’ music was already coming out of his fingers…’ songs without words’ everyone would say. But realizing it was an art that could stand on it’s own was a huge revelation and since then a constantly developing journey of what can be said through music coming out of one guitar.
At the time his first cd was released, COLLECTION OF SOUNDS, Jason had begun collaborating with other musicians, in more of a supportive role as a lead guitarist, and was developing another side of his playing. From soft and subtle accompaniment to all out blues or bluegrass oriented jams ….it could all be described as acoustic or folk music to a degree. It led to a lengthy partnership with Noah Hunt for 4 years. Noah is now the lead vocalist for blues phenom Kenny Wayne Shephard, but the two did not split ways before recording an album together. LONG BLACK TRAIN was a great effort to capture what Noah and Jason did so well together in their performances and continues to be a ‘best kept secret album.’
Although Jason continues to explore the possibilities of duo and trio outfits, he is primarily known as a ‘solo acoustic guitarist.’ Really the only description that fits because the music isn’t all fingerstyle guitar, or flatpicking…it isn’t all folk (as we know it to be), and uses ideas that reach out into jazz, blues, bluegrass, celtic, rock & roll, and country to create a unique and energetic voice on acoustic guitar.
In 1999 Jason left Cincinnati, OH to head north for Ann Arbor, MI. Before leaving town, he had remained on the lists of the Best Releases of the Year for several years with his solo cds and the album he did with Noah Hunt (Long Black Train) and won 3 consecutive CAMMY AWARDS for BEST FOLK/BLUEGRASS INSTRUMENTALIST from 1997-1999.
The move north proved to be a good decision for many reasons. Not long after arriving in Ann Arbor, Jason made his way to St. Augustine, FL and won the Gamble Rogers Fingerstyle Championship and also competed for the first time at the National Championships in Winfield, KS.
Based on the local scene in and around Ann Arbor, he?s been able to spend a great deal of time teaching and playing more traditional music, focusing on some of the bluegrass roots he?s grown up with, and also getting to involve these aspects and instruments (banjo, fiddle, mandolin, etc.) with his original acoustic music. Of course there is also a handful of dedicated fingerstyle students as well and students have come as far as 4-5 hours to have a 2 hour workshop with Jason going over inspiration, technique and bits of theory regarding the guitar and music in general.